17 November 2014

Mum's Chocolate Chip Cookies

"I promise to bring some of Mum's cookies to school and share them with you.  Don't think of it as a present.  Think of it as a bribe for your silence."  from Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Lynburn Legacy series is one that I'd seen at the bookstore and it was even recc'd to me on Amazon a few times, but it took me several months and too many book duds before I gave this series a try.  Boy am I glad I did, because it so much better than I thought it would be for two super cool reasons;

First, the main character, Kami Glass, is sassy.  She's a smartass, wisecracking fount of asides and questionable wisdom.  I freaking love her.  There isn't enough sass in YA fiction and reading the first book in this series, Unspoken, illuminated this terrible void.  There is an abundance of angst, naivete, melancholy, straightlaced prudery and needless rebelliousness but pert and cheeky girls, not so much. Every situation Kami encounters she faces with a witty rejoinder and brave effort.

Second thing I love the most is the intriguing worldbuilding.  On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a normal, boring English village.  But in reality otherworldly events have shaped the village and its people in surprising ways, Not the least of which is Kami and her imaginary friend (secret voice in her head that turns out to be a real boy, sorry for the spoiler, but Untold is the second book in the series and the voice-in-the-head mystery is revealed in book one).  The worldbuilding is doled out in small amounts, so you don't have to wade through chapters of explanations about what the world is like and why.

The strangeness of Sorry-in the-Vale (Best name ever, am I right?) explodes when the plots of book one come to a head, leaving me breathlessly waiting for book two, hallelujah, Ms. Brennan is a fast writer.  Hearts are broken, evildoers revealed and Kami is left alone as the one person she thought would always be on her side has left her.

Right off book two jumps into the battle with Scarecrows that reminded me a bit of a Doctor Who episode; The Family of Blood.  Anyways, the story goes on from here with Kami doing her best to protect the people she cares about.

More secrets are revealed and the battle for the Vale isn't just on the horizon its starting.  Now that the Lynburns and magic have returned, the reader realizes that the village was never what they thought it was and that magic was always meant to be there.

I can't help but comment on Kami and Jared, the main pairing for the book.  There is definitely some romance but I'm not sure if there will be a happily ever after for this couple, either way, I love the book and the series and cookies.  Read it while eating these cookies, you won't be sorry.
Yep, those are mini reese's cups.

Here's my take on Mum's Cookies;
adapted from this recipe; Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mum's Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp rum extract
3 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda mixed into 2 tsp hot water
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips - I used 1 cup milk chocolate, 1/2 cup dark chocolate and 1/2 cup reese's minis
1 cup toasted pecans or just regular pecans, whatever tips your boat


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Mix the butter and sugar until it is uniform in color and texture.

3.  Add eggs, extract and baking soda/water mix, stir again.  Now add all the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly before adding the chocolate and pecans*.

4.  Scoop by tablespoonfuls and place at least 2 inches apart on a prepared baking sheet or parchment and bake in the preheated oven for 10 -12 minutes or until golden around the edges.

*If you want your cookies to look picture ready, save a few of the chips, nuts and reese's minis for last, simply press these into the tops of the uncooked cookie balls.  Your cookies will come out of the oven looking even prettier than usual, practically bursting with chocolatey nutty goodness.

15 August 2014

The Cake is a Lie

I think I've reached the end of the years where a theme birthday cake is something I make for my son.  He turned fourteen this summer and this was the cake from his thirteenth birthday party (yep, it really did take a year for me to post this).

I feel kinda bad that I never got around to making cookie monster cupcakes, golden snitch cake pops or a sphere shaped death star cake.   But we've thrown him some pretty nice parties, the avatar themed party where everyone air bended and water bended (hula hoops and squirt guns), the pie party, we made pies, several kinds and people ate them outside and the fried chicken and Lord of the Rings party.  We ate fried chicken and marathoned the Tolkien trilogy.

But this was one of my favorite parties, because, as I was making the cake and getting the carrier ready to take to Chuck E. Cheese (they put on a pretty good party and are sweet and kind to boot) I knew that this would be the last little kid party I'd ever host, sob.

So here it is, the portal cake from the game Portal;

The Cake is a Lie

Here are the cakes after being cooked, I even remembered to make the parchment circles for inside the pans and they worked like a dream.

That isn't congealed butter on top but my parchment circle, waiting to be peeled off.
split cakes filled with strawberry cheese
Uh oh, my cakes are leaning a bit.
This isn't a perfect frosting job, because I'm going to cover it in curls of chocolate, so any flaws will be hidden in creamy chocolatey goodness.
The lean sorta self corrected on the drive over, yay!
This was a super gigantic cake and after everyone, a total of 8 people ate we still had a half a cake left, which we ate for breakfast the next day.

I have a confession to make.  I don't follow a recipe for making frostings.  I always make buttercream or cream cheese and they always turn out just by eyeballing them.  So writing out the recipe is a tad strange to me.

I'll post some recipes later, I followed a basic chocolate cake recipe, tweaked a cream cheese frosting by adding pureed strawberries and whipped together a milk chocolate cheese frosting by adding melted chocolate to softened cream cheese and powdered sugar, tipping in a little buttermilk when it got to stiff to spread.

Sometimes baking is like that, experimental.  Sometimes it even turns out tasty.